The Dreaded Steek – Bravely Cutting Your Knitting

“You want me to cut what????”

That was my knee-jerk reaction when I first read about steeking! How could anyone, after putting in so many hours of lovely knitting, even think about actually cutting through the work they just finished? Well, that is exactly what you do when you steek your knitting.

It’s very scary, I know. In fact, I just experienced my very first steek a few weeks ago. It made my poor heart pound frantically, but when it was over, and nothing started unraveling, I was able to breathe normally again (after I took a huge sigh of relief!).

Steeked Fair Isle Sweater

This is the unfinished sweater with the steeks cut for v-neck and sleeves.

The way the whole thing works, in a nutshell, is you work in the round up to the shoulders of your sweater, shirt, or whatever. This works especially great for sweaters that have a lot of colorwork, or fair isle (as mine is), because you don’t need to interrupt the color pattern. You just keep right on knitting around and around. (It’s also nice because you don’t have to figure out how to do fair isle on the wrong side!) Then, when you’re project is the right length, you are ready to do some steeking.

If you have set up your sweater to be a v-neck by decreasing and increasing in the middle of the front, then you will have three steeks to cut. Now, I have read that it is not completely necessary to reinforce your steeks before cutting, but I feel more comfortable with the reinforcement. Who knows? Maybe some day I will have enough steeking experience behind me that I won’t worry about the reinforcements anymore, but for now, I say grab your sewing machine or needle and thread and give yourself some peace of mind before cutting!

V-Neck Fair Isle Sweater with Steek Cut

Here’s a little closer view of the steek for the v-neck.

On my sweater, I used two rows of stitching on either side of the steek, about one column of stitches away from where I was going to cut. I used a sewing machine to make it go faster, but you could potentially just use a needle and thread in a complementing color. Just make sure your stitches are close together. I then used sharp scissors to carefully cut (aaahhhh!) down the “ladders” of the knitted piece. Be careful to stay on the same column of ladders. I almost made an ooops! on my sweater because I was so nervous!

Once you have all your steeks cut, and you have enough blood back in your brain and your hands, you are ready to add your finished collar and your sleeves. Simply pick up and knit evenly around where you cut your steek. Pick up the stitches at least two columns in from where you made your cut. Continue your pattern as normal from there on out and enjoy knowing that you braved the scary world of steeking and are a survivor!

If you have any stories about your adventures into steeking, I’d love to hear them! Send me a reply and we can share our experiences, whether good or bad.


About Donielle Mohs

Donielle Schipper is the owner of KnittingKnicely. She enjoys homeschooling her six children. Her passions are teaching others about healthy lifestyle options, knitting, crocheting, and playing flute.
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